Capsule Reviews

The Day After the Fair From an 1891 Thomas Hardy short story comes this moody, romantic little drama about a frustrated West Country housewife, her illiterate maid and the handsome London lawyer who steals both their hearts. The production by Theatre Britain, a local troupe of dedicated Anglophiles, casts Sue Birch as Edith, the sad wife of an ambitious beer brewer (Steven Pounders). When the maid, Anna (Lauren N. Goode), meets a London bachelor named Charles (Jack Birdwell) on the merry-go-round of a traveling carnival, everybody's love life begins an up-and-down ride. Illiterate Anna can't answer Charles' love letters, so Edith happily takes up the task of writing them for her. Charles falls deeply in love with the Anna on the page, not knowing when he proposes that he'll actually be marrying a simple-minded (not to mention pregnant) housemaid. Meanwhile, Edith's heart and soul have connected with Charles' words. And why doesn't Edith's husband, Arthur, get a clue about what's going on beneath his nose? There can be no happy ending here. But there are some steamy moments of stolen passion to enjoy, plus Hardy's lilting, lyrical language. Under the direction of Robin Armstrong (who also designed the gorgeous period costumes), the cast acts with appropriately Victorian restraint. But beneath the surface, one senses R-rated lusts just dying to break free. Through June 27 at the Trinity River Arts Center, 2600 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 180. 972-490-4202. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

A Flea in Her Ear The Classical Acting Company with direction by Greg Leaming morphs this turn-of-the-century French absurdist play into a swinging 1960s sex farce with as much innuendo as an episode of Laugh In. Originally written by Georges Feydeau in 1907 Paris, this new adaptation (also by Leaming) is set in an affluent New York suburb and follows the follies of two housewives (Kelly Grandjean and the hilarious Emily Gray) who set out to catch a husband in an extramarital tryst. What starts off with a bang of energy and elicits an uproar begins to drag in the third act. It is reward enough to see this production for the slew of neurotic minor characters and their ridiculous quirks--broadly drawn and overwhelmingly unrealistic, they are the types of fools one would expect to see written into a Monty Python sketch. With speech impediments, erectile dysfunction, mistaken identity and vice, A Flea in Her Ear laughs at our need to be politically and morally correct, and makes us laugh back. Continues through June 27 at The Arena Theatre at Richland College, 12800 Abrams Road, 214-505-1655. (Leah Gerchario)

La Lupe Long before J.Lo, Christina Aguilera and Shakira, Cuban-born spitfire La Lupe was shakin' it to a Latin beat on TV and in the hottest nightspots of NYC in the '50s and '60s. Born Guadalupe Yoli, La Lupe performed and recorded with Tito Puente. She earned and lost a fortune, just as predicted by a voodoo priestess. She was an unpredictable diva given to shedding shoes and clothes while she sang and capable of igniting a crowd to hysteria with a shake of her fist. In the musical bio produced by Martice Enterprises now onstage at the Latino Cultural Center, a tiny titan of talent named Delilah takes on the title role. She's a wonder, with a voice and personality big enough to warrant her own fan following. Backing up Delilah on 14 high-energy songs from the La Lupe catalog is the dynamite Latin Jazz Ensemble from Booker T. Washington High School. If only the whole show were up to the quality of its individual parts. The script by Carmen Rivera is wooden and talky. And when Delilah's not singing and throwing herself into La Lupe's dance steps that require hips that are piston-fired, the show drags. The supporting cast isn't all that strong either, and some of the directing decisions by usually reliable Rene Moreno don't make sense. Continues through June 24 at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak St. 214-750-7435. (E.L.)

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